Saturday, September 8, 2012

Gluten-Free Dumplings, First Forays

Not being able to eat dumplings is one of the big losses of avoiding gluten/wheat. I'd pretty much written off trying to make my own dumpling skins/dumplings when I figured out my gluten issues. However, my recent success with xanthan gum and making gluten-free squash bread led me to consider taking a shot at gluten-free dumplings/potstickers.

Andrea Nguyen has blogged about her several attempts at making gluten-free dumplings with different flours + xanthan gum. I was just going to make an attempt with whatever gluten-free flour I had on hand, following her general method and proportions, but it turned out that the flour I was using (Bob's Red Mill) was the same as the flour Nguyen used in her first attempt.

You can see in her pictures and mine that the gluten-free flour is a little brittle, even with xanthan gum, compared to wheat dough. What's odd, though, is that her flour looks brittle even with the 30-minute resting time for the dough that she mentions in her instructions, whereas I found that between my first and second attempts, the resting time made all the difference in getting a more pliable dough (no resting time in my first trial). Hmm. Though, I did leave my dough for something like 1-1.5 hours. Maybe with Bob's Red Mill gluten-free flour, you need more resting time than you do with Nguyen's second and third flour combinations.

I made the skins too thick in my first batch, especially the very first dumpling's. Though I definitely got better at it over the first trial, the somewhat brittle dough made proper rolling, pleating, and sealing more difficult. The too-thick, very "rustic" skins overwhelmed the flavor of the meat inside. My second batch went much better.

Huh, well, I got better at that pretty quickly. As mentioned above, the resting time made the dough much more pliable and moist.

Got better at this part pretty quickly, too. Though, even with xanthan gum, gluten-free flour doesn't have the stretch that gluten gives, so it's still easy to develop holes when folding the skins. You can't really pull the dough the way you can with wheat dough, so you need to make sure your dumpling skins are broad enough, or the filling little enough to fold the skin up without having to stretch it.

On the plus side, because there's no gluten to develop, you don't have to knead gluten-free dough

Boiled some (shui jiao) of the second batch, as well as pan-fried for better comparison against the first batch. Both worked out great. Pictured at the top of the post are the pan-fried dumplings (guo tie/potstickers) from the second batch.

If you get a proper seal and don't cook your dumplings too roughly or too long (such that they rupture), you should have delicious soup sealed in with the meat (watch out for the juicy explosion).

Next time I'm going to try Nguyen's third round recipe, which includes sticky rice flour for more stretchiness and a more refined mouth-feel. Even rolled out thinly, these dumplings using Bob's Red Mill were pretty rustic. I think it's the bean flours in the Red Mill mix.


  1. Great job with these gluten-free dumplings! You definitely have the right attitude -- if you can't buy what you need (e.g. gluten-free dumpling dough), you make your own! Your folding technique is beautiful, too. As for the holes: usually when I make dumplings, I start with a square or circle of dough, fill, and fold in half. Not as pretty, but perhaps less chance of holes?

    1. Thanks, Jessie! Heheh, yeah, definitely a much more reliable and faster way to seal your dumplings.

  2. Your dumplings look wonderful! I'm eating lunch and catching up on your blog - somebody really needs to invent some cool technology where I can grab food right from the computer screen and gobble it down :)

    1. Thanks, Min! One day, hopefully in our lifetimes...that'd be excellent. I'll settle for on-demand pod-car transportation systems in the meantime, though.